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"Health is our most important asset and, in view of that, we must ensure that fruits and vegetables are more accessible to consumers"

Ricardo Miguelañez. Agricultural Engineer @rmiguelanez

"5 a day" is an international movement that promotes the consumption of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It arose in the US in 1989 in response to the deterioration in people's eating habits, which registered a notable decline in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, thereby increasing the risk of various diseases.

Now the campaign has a presence in more than 40 countries on the 5 continents, and is the largest fruit and vegetable consumption strategy in the world.

Ricardo Miguelañez.- We've all heard about the "5 a day" campaign. But who's behind it and what does it promote?

Joaquín Rey.- In Spain, the "5 a day" Association for the Promotion of the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables has autonomously managed this initiative since 2000. It's a Spanish non-profit supported by the fora and organizations that promote the importance of a balanced diet as a decisive factor in preventing the most common illnesses. The Association comprises companies in different areas of the fruit and vegetable sector, production and sales at the source, distribution and sales at destination, and society and services.

R.M.- What is the current state of consumption in Spain in your view? Could it be improved, and if so, how?

J.R.- Consumption has changed considerably. Today we set aside less time than ever to cook and we eat too many processed foods, relegating fruit and vegetables to a secondary level of importance. The people promoting consumption today are the grandparents who take care of their grandchildren, single people and couples without children. The key is promotion, promotion, promotion, campaigns which create proximity between the consumer and fruits and vegetables, not just when we're on a diet or sick, but every single day.

R.M.- What are the main challenges and threats facing the companies you represent?

J.R.- We must ensure that our fruits and vegetables meet consumer expectations in terms of sensory characteristics. To that end, there are notable R&D and innovation efforts under way.

The fight against rival products is the main threat, as are they often consumed instead of fruits and vegetables.

R.M.- What opportunities are there?

J.R.- Health is our most important asset and, in view of that, we must ensure that fruits and vegetables are more accessible to consumers, in vending machines and in schools, at work and universities, and at home, by purchasing seasonal products and having them on hand, and involving kids in choosing, buying and preparing them.

R.M.- What are the main actions being implemented as part of the campaign to encourage the consumption of 5 servings a day?

J.R.- The association implements social and educational marketing actions to raise awareness about the importance of eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This includes the traveling Frutoteca project, a fun, cultural and interactive initiative which teaches children about fruits and vegetables and the advantages of consumption, as well as about farming, collection, transportation and sales, and also the play entitled "The magic of fruits and vegetables". Talks are also given in schools and companies about food and healthy habits, healthy breakfasts and tips and advice on eating, among other topics.

R.M.- Your General Assembly of Members and the "5 a day" Professional Seminar are being organized at present, and have become a meeting point for the sector. What do these events aim to achieve?

J.R.- We aim to become a leader for the sector in promoting consumption of fruits and vegetables and healthy habits. We hope that our message leaves an impression on attendees and that they help us spread the word and reach more consumers.

R.M.- Lastly, what are the objectives of "5 a day" for the coming years?

J.R.- Our main challenge is to continue to raise awareness about the importance of eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, among the general population and children in particular, who are tomorrow's consumers. We also aim to reduce the number of people who are overweight and obese by spreading the word about healthy living habits and seeking synergies with other associations to implement actions that raise awareness among the population.

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